So just when you thought that Mark Dad’s Army Francois had won the trophy for British political clown of the decade, along comes Ann Widdecombe saying “Haud ma coat”. During her first speech to the European Parliament, Ann compared the EU to slave owners. That’s not hyperbole at all, oh no. That’s just a riddie, that’s just an embarrassment. That’s just an affront to all those millions of people who suffered and died at the hands of the slave trade of the British Empire. It’s an insult to them and an insult to their descendants.
The only thing that Ann Widdecombe is a slave to is her ego and her overweening English nationalist entitlement. When an old Tory who supports austerity, who backs homophobia, who once defended putting women prisoners who were actually in the process of giving birth in chains, claims to speak for the oppressed, satire hasn’t just died. It’s been crushed to its atoms, those atoms split into their subatomic particles, and the resultant plasma blasted into a black hole where it has effectively vanished from this universe.
The gist of her speech was to liken the UK within the EU to a colony rebelling against an undemocratic empire. English nationalists like Ann are incapable of conceptualising any relationship between nations that isn’t one predicated on power and domination. The notion of independent states cooperating as equals is alien to them. They view everything through the prism of the relationship between the nations of the UK. You’re either the ruler or the ruled. A partnership of equals is just a lullaby sung to Scottish Unionists to stop them from crying themselves to sleep at night.
The English nationalism that drives Brexit still hankers for the days when Britannia ruled the waves and waived the rules, when Greater England and its hangers on dominated the world and enforced its wishes with gunboats. Ann thinks that oppression is going to a restaurant and being served a meal by someone from Krakow.
British politics is broken and it can’t be fixed. Scotland may have lost faith in the Labour party a long time ago, but now that loss of faith has been replicated across the rest of the UK. According to an opinion poll from YouGov this week, 24% would vote Tory, 23% would vote for Nigel Farage Ltd. 20% for the Lib Dems, and 9% for the Greens. Just 18% of UK voters say that they’d back the Labour party in a General Election. The Labour party has fallen to fourth place in Westminster voting intentions over the UK as a whole. It is likely that if there’s an early General Election, parties in favour of crashing out of the EU with no deal would take a majority of seats in England and Wales. This Conservative government is the worst in living memory, the most inept, the most venal, the most incompetent. Yet Labour is still behind them in the polls.
Those Labour voters still remaining in Scotland can now be under no illusions that the Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn is going to save them from a Tory Brexit, even in the unlikely event that Magic Grandpa does finally get off the fence and comes out in support of a second EU referendum. Meanwhile in Scotland, the Conservatives remain the second largest party but have fallen to a paltry 15%, and on 44% the SNP enjoy a lead over them of 29%. Ross Thomson isn’t the only Scottish Tory MP who’s going to be known as SNP Gain in the next Westminster General Election in Scotland. Together with the Scottish Greens, who are on 7%, pro independence parties in Scotland now enjoy an absolute majority in the polls.
The picture in Scotland is very different. We are politically a different country which wants different things from the rest of the UK. The UK could only ever function as long as voters in Scotland were on the same political page as the rest of the UK. And for the majority of the 20th century, we were. Voters in Scotland alternated between Labour and the Conservatives, and voters in the rest of the UK alternated between Labour and the Conservatives. Scotland got what it voted for often enough to allow the Scottish Unionists to keep singing their comforting lullaby that Scotland was a partner in a family of nations.
On Thursday, Theresa May came to Scotland to deliver her last speech in this country as Prime Minister. It was billed as her announcement of a review of devolution, but as with all Theresa May’s anticipated speeches, it was content free and not worth the effort of bothering to listen to. Blah. Precious Union. Blah blah. It was all the fault of the SNP. Blah. Blah. Blah. Even Reporting Scotland couldn’t be arsed enough to mention it in its headline stories at the top of the programme.
It wasn’t that the speech was too little too late. It was like trying to revive a long decayed corpse with a dead and corroded AA battery. She was asked about the opinion polls that show that support for independence has increased, she replied that the SNP lost seats in the 2017 election. She’s stuck in a time warp. She said that the SNP should stop obsessing about independence and get on with governing, obsessing about independence is the Tories’ job. But judging from the number of times she dodged answering the question about whether a no deal Brexit spells the end of the UK, it was clear that she thinks it does.
The best that she can offer the people of Scotland is that we should accept Brexit, accept massive damage to our economy, accept estrangement from our European allies, accept becoming a minor and sidelined province of Greater Brexitshire, because we’re best pals. Well best pals don’t treat one another the way that Westminster has treated Scotland. Best pals respect one another. All Scotland gets from Westminster is contempt, arrogance, and a lack of respect. Best pals don’t think that they can dictate and give orders, but that’s how Westminster conceives of its relationship with Scotland.
It’s too late. There’s a stale bucket of urine that would be more welcome. Theresa May’s successor is quite likely to be the last British Conservative Prime Minister dictating to Scotland. Brexit has exposed the reality of the UK’s nature. This isn’t a family of nations. It isn’t a partnership of equals. It’s not a union. It’s Greater England. As long as Scotland remains a part of the UK, it will get what England votes for, and it will not be permitted any influence or say. The Scottish Unionist lullaby has been replaced with a new one, a lullaby that sings the final sleep of the UK:
Hush little Tory don’t say a word, Scotland’s gonna reject the Brexit turd,
and when that turd makes Ruthie boak, Scotland’s gonna see the UK’s a joke,
and when that joke is a laughing stock, Scotland’s gonna look to the EU bloc,
and when that bloc makes Boris plead, Scotland’s gonna vote and it will secede,
and when Scotland secedes and says goodbye, poor little Tory’s gonna cry.
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